Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) director of operations Ben Phiri on Sunday launched an onslaught on his critics who say he has become an overnight billionaire through dubious means, saying they need to work hard to
reach where he is instead of harbouring envy.
Speaking in a radio interview, Phiri , who has been President Peter Mutharika’s long-time Special Adviser and Assistant, said he worked extra hard to reach where he is.
The former presidential top aide said he had stepped down from his position to pave the way for people who have been accusing him of corruption to prove their case.
“I resigned from State House soon after these reports started circulating. I asked the State to investigate me thoroughly, that is why I did not to cling to the State House job because people would have thought that the President was protecting me,” said Phiri.
He said up to now, no State agency has come back to him to say he had been charged with corruption or theft or abuse of office charges.
“This shows I am clean, so those people who say I accumulated my wealth through evil, let them come forward to prove it. They need to work extra hard if they are to reach where I am,” said.
In an earlier interview with Nyasa Times, Phiri showed documents of how he took bank loans to buy houses.
“I even kept my small allowances whenever I accompanied the President on his tours when my friends were busy drinking beer and doing other things,” said Phiri at his printing empire, Beata and the upmarket accommodation facility.
Asked if he was still very close to President Mutharika, Phiri said he no longer works for him at State House and refused to say whether he still meets the Malawi leader for a talk or two.
“That is personal but you should no that I am no longer at State House and he is the State president,” said Phiri.
During interview with Zodiak radio, former First Lady Callista Mutharuka responding to a journalist question that a Ben Phiri is among the potential names mentioned to take over the DPP mantle, she said that would be a “gratuitous insult” to Malawians.
“Umenewo ungakhale nyozo (That would be an insult). I have never heard about that, but, if true, that would be a gratuitous insult. Malawians are not stupid. What is your personal take on that? Do you think the people you are mentioning can rule a country? I mean, can they govern? Can the they steer the ship in the right direction? Can the poor be uplifted from the doldrums of poverty? Some people think it is easy to take advantage of the low literacy rate in our rural areas, so they just wake up and say ‘I can be president.’ It’s not that easy,” said the former first lady.
“Let me make a plea to the people in our rural areas: when you hear so-and-so plans to contest as president, ask carefully: what kind of education has he or she had? What are his or her plans? Aren’t these the very same thieves plundering government entities? They need to ask themselves those questions,” she said bluntly.
The journalist pressed Callista further to explain what was wrong with Ben Phiri not to be eligible to run for president.
In her response, Callista said she had no intention to speak further on specific individuals, but said “just do your research and look carefully into their personal stories. I will not say anything more than that. Find out what people out there say.”
During the interview, Callista pointed out that Malawians are engulfed by too much fear.
“ Why is that so? God protects us. Let us learn to speak the truth, to stand for what is right. In addition, let us not deceive the masses in rural areas, to whom we go masquerading as philanthropists, yet these so-called philanthropists are thieves, stealing from your government, stealing from public entities . . . my plea to those stealing is please, stop that. People are suffering in rural areas. You are stealing money that could have assisted the poor.”
After two years of political sabbatical leave, he is back in the DPP as director of field operations and is aspiring to be Member if Parliament for Thyolo Central Constituency.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :